Archive for July, 2014

Time To Buy My Own Bitcoins

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 07.31.2014 (3:52 am)
$BTCAhhh, I guess it’s a bit strange for me to make this move right? I have been focused mainly on passive income so owning stuff like physical gold does not really fit into that criteria. I do also have my shorter term long & short stocks that have done well.

Buying Bitcoins Fits None of My Investing Strategies

I guess you could say that it’s either:
a) A wild gamble
b) A “fun” bet
There’s probably a bit of both but I’m also incredibly interested in the technology and know a lot of different people that are believing in it increasingly and making bigger bets. Just take a look at the industries that is starting to form around bitcoins:

What is Bitcoin?

In case you have not heard, Bitcoin is a “digital” currency. Find out more at
One of the massive benefits of such a currency is that in theory (and in practice), there are no fees involved in sending money in BTC, no matter where you’re sending it, etc. There are fees when converting BTC to other currencies, but you could get paid in BTC for work done, use part of it to send to friends in another country, buy a computer from Dell and more, all without either party having to pay any fees. That bypasses many intermediates from the financial industry that would normally charge fees in each step.
There are also other reasons why a currency that does not rely on a government could make sense. Just look at countries where inflation is high or will eventually become high or where exchange rates are manipulated. Just yesterday, we more or less got confirmation that Argentina will default on
There is a great video that discusses Bitcoin, its use, flaws and benefits that was posted by Fred Wilson:

What’s Next?

Unfortunately, buying and holding Bitcoins is not exactly simple at this point. There are many types of wallets, many ways to buy the Bitcoins, etc. I’m currently looking into all of those and hope to do my first trade at some point in August.
I don’t intend on buying a big amount but will simply be buying a small amount every month and will see how that goes.
I’d be curious to know if any of you have purchased Bitcoins?

Ultimate Sustainable Dividend Portfolio – July 2014 Update – Tougher Month

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 07.29.2014 (3:00 am)


As many of you know the Ultimate Sustainable dividend portfolio was built over a year ago as an attempt to slowly become financially free. By that I mean having enough passive income to not “need” to work any longer. I track my progress every month and I’m looking at many different wyas to get that done which include real estate, my own business, etc. That being said, the core of my strategy relies on income generated from my portfolios.

The USDP, along with my ETF portfolio generate the bulk of my passive income and I decided to track this with a monthly post in order to keep myself accountable and also because I’ve heard from many of you that this would be helpful.

As is always the case, you can get extra information in my newsletter, it’s free to sign up for here:

Without further wait, let’s get started. Here are the portfolio holdings as of last night:

TickerNameSharesJuly 28 2014 PriceJuly 28 2014 Values
OMCOmnicom Group Inc32$72.96$2,334.72
MSFTMicrosoft Corp74$43.97$3,253.78
JCIJohnson Controls Inc42$48.65$2,043.30
PEPPepsiCo Inc/NC30$90.97$2,729.10
ETNEaton Corp33$76.75$2,532.75
DOVDover Corp26$88.11$2,290.86
ITWIllinois Tool Works Inc30$84.75$2,542.50
XLNXXilinx Inc39$41.33$1,611.87
SJMJM Smucker Co/The21$104.08$2,185.68
BLKBlackRock Inc13$316.43$4,113.59
TROWT Rowe Price Group Inc31$80.25$2,487.75
OXYOccidental Petroleum Corp24$99.82$2,395.68
XOMExxon Mobil Corp21$104.37$2,191.77
ADIAnalog Devices Inc46$50.55$2,325.30
HASHasbro Inc31$51.14$1,585.34
MATMattel Inc45$35.42$1,593.90
BAXBaxter International26$76.47$1,988.22
IVZInvesco Ltd69$38.43$2,651.67
TXNTexas Instruments Inc32$47.35$1,515.20
VWOVanguard FTSE Emerging Markets81$45.14$3,656.34
BNDVanguard Total Bond Market46$82.15$3,778.90

Dividends Received

The month of July is one of the slower months in the year in terms of dividends but the $35 generated this month are still 27% more than July 2013 so we are making progress!



Ultimate Sustainable Dividend Portfolio News

Not much to report here. I can’t say I’d blame these companies for not announcing dividend increases in the middle of the summer!


Unfortunately, the news isn’t as good here. Yes, part of it is the type of portfolio that I run. Having a dividend portfolio usually means having a low beta portfolio. So you’d expect it to underperform in fast rising markets but to do much better in market declines. Since the last update, the overall market is up 2% (including dividends). The USDP is only up about 1.3%. Why? Just look at these 2 stocks compared to the overall market:

MAT Chart

MAT data by YCharts

XLNX Chart

XLNX data by YCharts

So the USDP now trails the S&P500 total return and will hopefully make up for it!




A very slow month this time around, I did add to both of my ETF positions however.

New Trade: Long TripAdvisor ($TRIP) & Short Travelzoo ($TZOO)

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 07.28.2014 (3:00 am)

Many more interesting earnings will be released this week. The one I’m most looking forward to at this point is Twitter’s (TWTR). I could be making my first “long term speculative pick” of the year in the 1-2 coming weeks and both TripAdvisor (TRIP) and Twitter (TWTR) remain the most likely options. It all depends on how things play out I guess:) Otherwise, it was a great week for my picks again, mostly thanks to Facebook which shot up as I wrote about on Thursday.The long & short portfolio now stands at +33,28% so far this year.

You can also see my long & short trades here:

Today’s trade features two of the bigger internet travel plays and while one trades at a much higher P/E, I’m convinced that buying it remains the no-brainer pick here. Part of the story here can be told by simple chart that features revenue growth. First let’s look at the numbers for both stocks:

TickerNamePricePE RatioPE Next YearReturn YTDSales GrowthAnalyst ratingBook ValueBetaEarningsRevenue/ShareSales 5Y Avg GrowthSales 5Y Avg GrowthEPS 5Y Avg Growth
TZOOTravelzoo Inc17.5215.8417.42-18.294.673.672.640.7210/17/201410.369.6911.7717.82
TRIPTripAdvisor Inc99.8869.1736.6422.323.813.547.191.3310/23/20146.6129.3531.39N/A

TZOO Revenue (Quarterly YoY Growth) Chart

TZOO Revenue (Quarterly YoY Growth) data by YCharts

$TRIPLong TripAdvisor (TRIP)

TripAdvisor is one of my top picks in this market when I look at the upside vs. downside. I had been waiting for an opportunity to buy TRIP for a while and its decline following a disappointing earnings release last week might be just what I’m looking for to buy a more significant stake in the company as discussed here just recently. My biggest argument for supporting TRIP is that it has such a unique community and becomes extremely difficult to compete with. Most other plays (Priceline, Hotwire, Expedia, etc) compete mostly on ease of use, overall offering and prices. TRIP has millions of comments that make it possible to give its users a unique perspective. I think that will continue to be extremely valuable and I don’t see anyone close to competing there. I do expect that just like Facebook, TRIP will eventually move far beyond advertising and build strong relationships with the tens of thousands of businesses that run hotels, restaurants or other travel-related businesses. Thus, I personally think TRIP is an amazing (especially in the long term) buying opportunity here.

TRIP Chart

TRIP data by YCharts

Next earnings release: October 23rd 2014

$TZOOShort Travelzoo (TZOO)

Overall, I’ve been a fairly negative investor when it comes to Travelzoo. They do have an interesting business model but it’s fairly easy to compete with and as is the case with Groupon (GRPN), is losing steam fairly quickly. While they do have other interesting properties, their core remains that huge mailing list that they target with specific travel deals on a weekly basis. It has resulted in a significant slowdown in most of its metrics and won’t get any easier in the future in my opinion. So while it is trading at a much lower P/E than it was a couple of years ago, I still think it’s overvalued and will continue to suffer.

TZOO Chart

TZOO data by YCharts

Next earnings release: October 17th 2014

Disclaimer: No positions on TripAdvisor (TRIP) or Travelzoo (TZOO)

Facebook (FB) Reports Impressive Results But It’s Only Getting Started

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 07.24.2014 (3:00 am)

$FBI’ve obviously been writing about Facebook for quite some time on this blog and while I’ve been very fortunate in how things have played out, I do still think it’s a fascinating story no matter how you look at it. At the time of the IPO, I strongly believed Facebook was a great value at those levels but I was obviously in the minority and since I tend to stay away from newly turned public companies for the first few months (I hate the initial volatility), I did end up buying a few months later. As you can imagine, if I thought $38/share was a value, getting in under $20 was a steal. There was risk involved (there always is), but in terms of upside vs downside risk, it was a no-brainer.

Much of the criticism of Facebook’s valuation was based on:

Doubts about Facebook’s ability to remain the dominant social network (FB = MySpace)
The limited available growth in terms of users (if FB growth = user growth, then how much further can you get past 1B? and more importantly, how valuable in the short term is that 2nd billion users?)
Revenues: If mobile was going to mean less of those big flashy banner ads, then was Facebook doomed when internet moved to mobile?

I personally discounted the last 2 arguments and believed the first one was possible, especially if Facebook made some big mistakes, but unlikely. Over time, more concerns have been added:

-Younger generation moving away from Facebook
-Users splitting their attention between an increasingly large number of social services

That being said, by all accounts Facebook has been delivering in an incredible way in the past few quarters. Just look at growth in users, revenues and earnings:





credit: FB earnings slides

When I look at Facebook’s stock near the $75 level (point it reached yesterday in after hours trading), I do continue to see tremendous upside. Why? In my opinion, there are 5 clear steps for Facebook and while all of these will be on-going, I’d say Facebook is barely into step #2:

Step #1: Building and Never Stop Improving and Building: Clearly, Facebook already has the top social network around but has continued to build on it both through its own efforts (improving core Facebook, messenger app, etc) but also through acquisitions such as Instagram, WhatsApp, etc.

Step #2: Build an advertising based business: Facebook started off with those flashy banners but has moved beyond those to news within the newsfeed, app installs, etc. They mentioned on yesterday’s call that in many countries the ads are being perceived as nearly the same quality as the other content. Clearly, there is still a long way ahead but Facebook is making great progress as we can see in their impressive growth. I believe that will continue but perhaps even more important is Facebook’s ability to sell ads outside its walls thanks to its growing relationship with other app developers, its integration of Liverail, etc. Facebook is only getting started here.

Step #3: Other revenue efforts: As of right now, efforts such as payments, ecommerce and subscriptions are minimal as they should be. But I strongly believe that these will represent a huge stepping stone in the coming decade. There are much bigger gains in advertising right now but as the internet continues to mature, as smartphones spread and as Facebook’s ecosystem and the outside world adapts, revenue opportunities will emerge and I think this will be a focus in a few years.

Step #4: Full integration: I’m clearly not a believer in Facebook integrating Instagram, WhatsApp or other “products” into Facebook but if Facebook does make progress on elements such as payments, advertising, etc, it will clearly be able to slowly integrate some of those features into those products. There is no reason to rush this. Those products are not as mature and the focus is on step #1 but I do think they will reach that point in the future.

Step #5: Future Platforms: Mark Zuckerberg discussed this a bit in yesterday’s call. Clearly, while Facebook has what I consider to be an ecosystem, it does not control things the same way that Apple and Google do because those 2 players own the dominant mobile O/S. One day, as we have started moving away from desktop computers, smartphones will start losing market share to newer mediums and Facebook believes the Oculus Rift purchase will help Facebook be in a better position in the next “platform” than it is on desktop or mobile platforms.

So yes, Facebook is just getting started and the upside remains very significant in a market where most see Facebook’s end game as advertising.

FB Chart

FB data by YCharts

Disclaimer: Long Facebook (FB)


New Trade: Long Google ($GOOG) & Short Blue Nile ($NILE)

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 07.21.2014 (3:00 am)

Ahh the earnings have started coming in. These days, I’m spending (too much) time reading at night trying to draw conclusions from both the earnings numbers but also the earnings calls. I’ll try to write more about it this week, I obviously can’t wait to see what Facebook (FB) and Apple (AAPL), my two biggest long term positions come out with. I also am closing out 1 trade as I mentioned this morning. After another good week, the long & short portfolio has returned 29,51% so far this year. The past 3 years have been good but this is obviously the top one since writing this blog. Hopefully things do keep up.

I discuss earnings, trading and give my thoughts on the tech stocks in my free email newsletter, feel free to join here:

You can also see my live trades here:

Today I didn’t have as many options as I usually do despite only having a few live trades. Earnings season gave me less confidence in many of these stocks so after doing some filtering, I ended up with 7 names. I was tempted to do a trade with Twitter (TWTR) and LinkedIn (LNKD) but will wait for both to report earnings before drawing more conclusions. So I’m going with 2 stocks that I’ve traded frequently:

TickerNamePricePE RatioPE Next YearReturn YTDSales GrowthAnalyst ratingBook ValueBetaRevenue/ShareSales 5Y Avg GrowthEPS 5Y Avg GrowthSales 5Y Avg GrowthEPS 5Y Avg Growth
GOOGGoogle Inc595.08N/A18.1N/A19.234.46N/AN/AN/A23.8417.098.1913
NILEBlue Nile Inc27.431.0821.23-43.2412.493.672.180.9535.8910.85109.90.65N/A

GOOG Revenue (Quarterly YoY Growth) Chart

GOOG Revenue (Quarterly YoY Growth) data by YCharts

$googLong Google (GOOG)

Google has been on a good run and while it remains more than anything else, a company that dominates search and makes most of its money by showing ads on those pages, there are more and more “potential seeds”. Things like its Android presence, its Youtube channel, its different Google X projects, etc. Some of those will end up generating solid growth and for that reason, I think Google does deserve a valuation premium.  Costs are rising a bit faster than I’d like to see but I am becoming a believer in the “Page doctrine” and do think some of those initiatives will end up paying off.

GOOG Chart

GOOG data by YCharts

Next earnings release: October 17th 2014

$NILEShort Blue Nile (NILE)

Over the years, I’ve been a Blue Nile doubter and have probably shorted it more than any other stock. I’ve pulled back on that quite a bit this year. Part of is the decline in the stock making it less “overvalued” but the earnings growth has also been strong making it a riskier short. That being said, when I compare the valuation of a stock like Blue Nile to Google, it does still look expensive and this week seemed like a good option to go for. Earnings growth is important but I’m a strong believer in the revenues growth being a critical metric and from that perspective, it’s been disappointing.

NILE Chart

NILE data by YCharts

Next earnings release: August 1st 2014

Disclaimer: No positions on Google (GOOG) or Blue Nile (NILE)

Closing Trade ($EXPE, $TZOO)

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 07.21.2014 (2:30 am)

Over time, I’ve grown more and more sceptical of businesses that have little to no barriers to entry. Travelzoo (TZOO) feels like one of those businesses and the most recent earnings release was very bad. I don’t see any of that changing in the near future. This morning, I’ll still be closing out this trade on Expedia (EXPE) and Travelzoo (TZOO), taking profits off of the table on this one.

TZOO Chart

TZOO data by YCharts

As always, you can see our 2014 long & short stock picks here:

Weekend Readings

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 07.18.2014 (3:00 am)

General Readings

How Russian hackers stole the Nasdaq @ BusinessWeek

Tech Stock Readings

Kara Swisher, a tech journalist legend @ NYMag
Amazon a friendly giant as long as its getting fed @ NYT
Uber, Lyft and reinventing the ride @ NYT
Box, Uber and 29 cent tacos @

New Trade: Long Apple ($AAPL) & Short Yelp Inc ($YELP)

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 07.14.2014 (3:00 am)

Last week I was able to close out 3 different stock picks, all winning ones which I was obviously thrilled with. The year-to-date performance (before fees) of this portfolio is now +23,81% which is very solid. I do intend on keeping the streak going but the next few weeks will be very interesting as most of the stocks I follow will report earnings. Google, Yahoo and eBay are among those reporting next week!!

I discuss these type of things as well as give my thoughts on the tech stocks in my free email newsletter, feel free to join here:

You can also see my live trades here:

Today is a bit of a different type of trade as I match up one of the lower P/E stocks that I follow with one of the highest ones. That means they have very different levels of growth of course which has to be taken into consideration but also look carefully at these numbers and how much more you’re getting out of Apple (revenues and earnings per share) compared to Yelp. At this rate of growth, it will take a very very long time for Yelp to play catch up….

TickerNamePricePE RatioPE Next YearReturn YTDSales GrowthAnalyst ratingBook ValueBetaRevenue/ShareSales 5Y Avg GrowthEPS 5Y Avg Growth
AAPLApple Inc95.2215.913.6719.959.24.2319.920.926.3941.2353.24
YELPYelp Inc70.62N/A80.032.8469.364.396.992.023.55N/AN/A

AAPL Revenue (Quarterly YoY Growth) Chart

AAPL Revenue (Quarterly YoY Growth) data by YCharts

$AAPLLong Apple (AAPL)

Today I was asked by a friend what my top stock pick was these days. A few months ago he had suggested I look at Gazprom which has done extremely well since the start of the Russian crisis. I still think it’s a solid pick but it was even better then. I liked the pick, it was original, controversial and it worked. That being said, as much as I would have liked to pull one of those off, I went with Apple. Despite its very solid performance this year, Apple remains a great upside vs downside play and I can’t think of many better plays at the moment. Apple trades at a discount to the S&P500 in terms of P/E ratio which I can’t justify.

ycharts_chart (3)

Next earnings release: July 24th 2014

$yelpShort Yelp Inc. (YELP)

Over the years, I’ve been at best neutral about Yelp. There were the rumours of shady tactics towards advertisers,  a reliance on players like Google for traffic. Of course, with many big players such as Google (GOOG), Facebook (FB), TripAdvisor (TRIP) and Priceline (PCLN) (through its OpenTable acquisition) making very strong moves to better compete with Yelp, it’ll be a big challenge for the company to justify its sky-high valuation.  Depending on Google’s search engine for much of its traffic is not surprisingly a big challenge given how they now compete. Just look at this Techcrunch article about leaked documents and you’ll get an idea. The same is likely happening on other platforms. Yelp has little to no control in those platforms.

When you think about the fact that Apple’s price/share is 35% higher than Yelp’s but its revenues/share are almost 650% higher, you can see why I think Yelp will have an extremely tough time justifying its 80 forward P/E.

ycharts_chart (4)


Next earnings release: July 31st 2014

Disclaimer: Long Facebook (FB), Apple (AAPL)

Weekend Readings – Tanaka Out

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 07.11.2014 (3:00 am)

tanakaWow..just as Yankees fan like myself were getting excited by Masahiro Tanaka, he gets injured and could be out for the rest of the year… Here are some happier things to read about:)

General Readings

Betting on the Ponies @ ReactionWheel
Are you the best trader ever? @ IrrelevantInvestor
The 40 year evolution of the American stock market @ Quartz
What is Espirito Santo? @ MoneyBeat

Tech Stock Readings

Tim Cook’s the main now? @ WSJ
The real meaning of the Fire Phone @ Musings

Closing 3 Trades ($PCLN, $NILE, $AAPL, $ORCL, $NFLX, $P)

By: ispeculatornew | Date posted: 07.09.2014 (3:00 am)

This morning I will be closing out 3 more trades from my long & short tech stock picks and it’s always more enjoyable to do so when the 3 are winning trades as is the case this morning. In all 3 cases, I have a decent level of confidence but prefer to open new trades as the earnings season gets started and there will be more opportunities to go after. Returns indicated here are as of yesterday’s close but trades will be closed on today’s opening:

Feb 24: Long Priceline (PCLN) & Short Blue Nile (NILE) +20,52%

PCLN Chart

PCLN data by YCharts

May 19: Long Apple (AAPL) & Short Oracle (ORCL) +20,79%

AAPL Chart

AAPL data by YCharts

May 19: Long Netflix (NFLX) & Short Pandora (P) +25,13%

NFLX Chart

NFLX data by YCharts

As is always the case, you can see all the 2014 long & short tech stock trades here:

The portfolio return is now over 23% and I’ll have a few more trades to go so hopefully things keep up:)